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Yellow Fever Steamer Monument.

Yellow Fever Steamer Monument

Field review by the editors.

Gallipolis, Ohio

At first glance the Yellow Fever Steamer Monument looks like modern conceptual metal art on a pole. It's actually a broken rocker shaft from the engine of the steamship John Porter. The steamer had come upriver from New Orleans on August 18, 1878. It brought along a shipment of barges -- and Yellow Fever.

Gallipolis is where the rocker shaft broke, so the ship and its barges sat in the river next to the town. Unfortunately, the barges had become a mobile breeding ground for New Orleans' mosquitoes carrying the Yellow Fever. Within a few weeks the mosquitoes had dispersed, and 66 people in the area were dead from the disease.

The monument was dedicated on August 18, 1932, the 54th anniversary of the Yellow Fever's arrival. According to its inscription, it was donated by John C. Rue -- he ran a local tile and cement business -- and the rocker shaft by engine-builder Charles A. Hill, who apparently had it laying around as a macabre professional artifact.

Probably a number of citizens at the dedication had lived through the epidemic. A bronze plaque was bolted to the monument at some later date, listing the names of 37 Gallipolis townspeople who died.

Yellow Fever Steamer Monument.

Yellow Fever Steamer Monument

First Ave., Gallipolis, OH
Along 1st Ave. in the Gallipolis city park next to the Ohio River.
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